Casa do Frango in Shoreditch: Delicious Algarvian dishes in a relaxed environment
Most of us may admit that we aren’t too familiar with the richness of Portuguese gastronomy. However, its popularity is growing by the day. In a city like London, where it’s easy to encounter many different types of European cuisine, there are still not enough spots to dive into Portuguese culture, its extraordinary wines and straightforward way of cooking.
Expect this and more from Casa do Frango in Shoreditch, the perfect place to discover petiscos (snacks) over a glass of cold Superbock (their national beer) or vinho verde in a setting that blends sophistication with homeliness. Burnt orange sofas and wood tables characterise the second floor, which features an open kitchen and a permanent smell of chorizo, piri-piri and port. On the bottom floor, a fully stocked bar invites you to take a seat and try any of the Portuguese spirits advertised on their shelves.
Following their first opening in London Bridge, Casa do Frango provides a menu inspired by Algarvian cuisine – which sits in the south of Portugal – that is heavily influenced by other regions of the country. Their offering focuses on their much-acclaimed piri-piri chicken, double-grilled and brushed over charcoal. This makes for a perfect sharing plate, tender and rich-flavoured – definitely not something we can say often about chicken dishes at other restaurants around town.
Before getting into their petiscos list – a very extensive list considering the bar downstairs adds at least three further options – we must mention that Casa do Frango don’t underestimate the power of a good drink. They have collaborated with an Algarvian brewery to create three special beers: a pilsner (Cerveja da Casa or house beer), a Piri-Piri Cerveja da Casa, similar but with a spiced touch, and the Fogo which is only available by the bottle (and for those daring to go the extra spicy mile!).
Besides the beer, the other drinks conquer the taste buds. There are dazzling cocktails and an impressive wine selection – 100% Portuguese too, of course. The Port Old Fashioned plays with a classic recipe by adding a hint of chocolate and a drizzle of Tawny port to the mix. It’s an impressive new take on the original.
We also tried a national summer favourite, the Caipirão – a simple yet punchy and delicious refreshment made of Beirão liquor, a squeeze of lime juice and lots of crushed ice. This was followed by a crispy glass of Muralhas de Monção, a “green wine” (which means young) with very subtle and young undertones from the Minho region in the North of Portugal.
As a pre-piri-piri chicken starter, any of their snacks will do, but you can’t leave without tasting the Bacalhau Fritters; you’ll be asking for more after the first serving. The fritters wrap you in the creaminess of their bechamel, filled with specks of codfish and gloriously deep-fried – a must-try.
The Porco Preto, a 24-month-aged Iberian cured ham, is accompanied by bite-sized chorizo empanadas (Salgadinhos) that nicely pair with any of their reds; especially the Vinha do Monte, a 2018 Alentejo wine, full of character and complexity.
The grilled chorizo is not to be missed either. Although closer to a Spanish than Portuguese chorizo, both in flavour and texture, its spiciness and charcoal aroma pairs perfectly with the black olive mayo that it is served with. We also had a taste of the Piri-Piri Garlic Prawns, maybe slightly low on garlic but still a good seafood option – simple fresh and cooked in their own juices.
Dessert is never an easy choice for us, but we always manage to keep space for it. We kept it traditional and went for two classics, the renowned Pasteis de Nata and a Mousse de Chocolate.
You might be wondering, is chocolate mousse a traditional dessert in Portugal? The answer is yes and no. You will not have tasted a chocolate mousse like this version, although you might have had this type of dessert before. The difference lies in the proportion of eggs and butter involved, resulting in a heavier and less fluffy consistency for the Portuguese one. Unfortunately, the fluffiness was there with no space for the signature consistency expected. However, the natas, accompanied by a Delta espresso (also from Portugal), had the right crunchiness on the edges and the nice custardy taste they are known for. You can rarely go wrong with these, especially when they are cooked in-house, as is the case with Casa do Frango. You can expect an extra lemony taste on the custard but that would be the only thing that differentiates them from your traditional pastel.
Casa do Frango is a much-needed stop on the spectrum of Portuguese restaurants in London, a place where you can enjoy a relaxed dinner with Algarvian-inspired dishes, great drinks and very warm staff.
Photos: Diogo Cruz (except header, chickens on the grill)
To book a table at Casa do Frango Shoreditch, 2 King John Ct Hackney London EC2A 3EZ, call 020 7654 3020 or visit their website here.